Yesterday we described Game Four in the 1996 World Series as one of the biggest contests in the 13-year Yankee run that ended in 2008. Perhaps its toughest competition was the game that immediately followed it, as Andy Pettitte outpitched Braves ace John Smoltz in a 1-0 victory and a Yankee sweep of the three games in Atlanta, on October 24. Paul O’Neill made a fine running grab on ex-Yankee Luis Polonia‘s drive to the right-center field gap to close the game. With Turner Field due to open the next April, the Braves fully expected to end their days playing in Fulton County Stadium on a victory tour. The best-laid plans…
Three years later the Bombers went ahead, two games to none, in the 1999 Classic in a 7-2 David Cone win, again over the Braves on October 24. Bernie Williams outpaced five of his teammates by getting a third hit, and the Yanks battered Braves starter Kevin Millwood.
The 4-2 Yanks loss to the Mets in the 2000 Series was the only game they would drop to their crosstown rivals in that year’s post. Benny Agbayani‘s eighth-inning double knocked in the winner on October 24, sending the until-then 8-0 el duque Hernandez to his first postseason loss.
The 8-7 Yankees’ loss to the Dodgers on October 24, 1981, tied that year’s World Series at two games apiece.
October days are busy for the Yankees even on game-free days. On October 24, 1939, Joe DiMaggio was named American League MVP, with Jimmie Foxx coming in second in the voting.
Twelve years later, on this day in 1951, Casey Stengel was named Manager of the Year by United Press International, on October 24.
And then in another 12 years, October 24 was also the day in 1963 when Yogi Berra was named Yankee manager.
The Yanks traded DH Jack Clark and hurler Pat Clements to San Diego for pitchers Lance McCullers and Jimmy Jones and outfielder Stan Jefferson on October 24, 1988.
The opening of the George Washington Bridge spanning the Hudson River on October 24, 1931, opened up Yankee fan-ness — and access to games — to all the people living in New Jersey. The vibrant Yankee fanbase in the Garden State earns gold stars for regularly withstanding Bridge traffic.
Game Three of the 1989 World Series was played on October 24, following more than a week’s delay due to a San Francisco earthquake.
Former Yankee Dave Winfield became the oldest player to ever knock in a World Series-winning run when he stroked a two-out, two-run double in the top of the 11th inning of Toronto’s 4-2 win over Atlanta on October 24, 1992.
Billy Martin was named Manager of the Year with the Texas Rangers on October 24, 1974.
Sandy Koufax won the 1963 Cy Young Award on October 24. The ace of the rival L.A. Dodgers, just a few years removed from their days playing in Brooklyn, Koufax was winning the first of three such honors.
The singer (not the comedian/actor) Billy Murray made a big hit with his rendition of Take Me Out to the Ballgame recorded on October 24, 1908.
The Japanese people took to American-imported baseball almost from the moment they were exposed to it, but they attempted to put a homegrown stamp on the sport. For instance, on October 24, 1940, they eliminated American terms like “strike” and “play ball” from the game in their native land.
Both Yankee players who have died on October 24 played for the 1902 AL Baltimore Orioles team that would move to New York as the Highlanders in 1903. Jack Thoney (1948) went hitless in 11 at bats playing three games for the 1902 Orioles, but then he notched 12 rbi’s with 24 hits in 128 times at bat playing 36 games for the 1904 Highlanders as well. Thoney spent much of his 1902-1911 career with the Red Sox, with overall numbers of three home runs and 73 runs driven in. Third baseman Andy Oyler (1970) only played with the 1902 Orioles. In 27 games, he collected 17 hits in 77 abs, good for one home run and six rbi’s.
Hall of Famer Jackie Robinson made a difference in all our lives. But after a turbulent though successful major league career, Robinson succumbed to heart disease at the young age of 53 on October 24, 1972. Playing for the Dodgers only from 1947-1956, Robinson hit 137 home runs, knocked in 734 runs, and he scored 947 times himself. The list of additional noteworthy nonYankee players who have died on October 24 includes two lefthanded pitchers and an outfielder. Jack Bentley (1969) won 46, lost 33, and saved nine games between 1913 and 1927 pitching mostly for the Senators and the Giants; Al Brazle (1973) posted a 97-64-60 mark pitching only for the Cardinals from 1943-1954; and lefty-hitting outfielder Jimmy Barrett (1921) hit 16 long balls and drove in 255 runs, most of it playing with Detroit.
Players Who Have Died This Day
I’ll start the list of Yankee October 24 birthdays with outfielder Hugh High (1887), who contributed three home runs and 90 rbi’s to the Yanks’ cause from 1915 through 1918, after playing two years in Detroit. High was selected off waivers by the Yanks from the Tigers in January 1915.
Like the disappointing Doug Collins before him, Omar Moreno (1952), was a left-handed outfielder the Yanks acquired for his speed, which he showed on the basepaths until he arrived in the Bronx. His six homers and 59 rbi’s in Pinstripes didn’t fall as dramatically short of expectations as the 28 bases he stole from the 1983 through 1985 seasons, after having played eight years in Pittsburgh. The Yanks got Moreno from Houston for yet another outfielder who apparently lost a step the second he arrived on the Yankee scene, Jerry Mumphrey, in August 1983.
Reliever Rawly Eastwick (1950) went 2-1 in eight games for the ’78 club after having made his name in Cincinnati, including during the 1976 Reds’ sweep of the Yanks in the Fall Classic. Lefty Harry Smythe (1904) also appeared in eight games as a Yankee, going 0-2 with one save in a 1934 season he split between the Bronx and the Brooklyn Dodgers, after having pitched for the Phillies in 1929 and 1930. Eastwick was signed by New York as a free agent in December 1977, and he was traded to the Philadelphia Phillies for Jay Johnstone and Bobby Brown the following June. Smythe was lost from the Yankee roster in May 1934, when he was selected off waivers by the Dodgers.
Other players traveled through the Yankee system without ever playing a regular- or postseason game with them, including utility player F.P. Santangelo (1967), who signed as a free agent with the Yankees in December 2001. F.P. was part of a spirited Spring Training battle to fill out the Yankee roster, a contest he eventually lost to Ron Coomer. And outfielder Jim Greengrass (1927) was Yankee property until August 1952, when he was traded with Bob Marquis, Ernie Nevel, Johnny Schmitz, and cash to the Cincinnati Reds for Ewell Blackwell. Greengrass hit 69 taters with 282 rbi’s with the Reds and the Phillies from 1952-1956.
Other birthdays: Washington third baseman Ossie Bluege (1900), who played from 1922 through 1939; Jack Russell (1905); Cubs and Reds righty reliever James Brosnan (1929), whose 55-47, 10-year-career mark featured a 17-7 record with Cincinnati in 1960-1961, although he allowed nine hits and five runs over six innings vs. the ’61 Yanks in his only postseason play; Ron Gardenhire (1957); Junior Ortiz (1959); Rafael Belliard (1961); Gene Larkin (1962); Ken Ryan (1968); Arthur Rhodes (1969); Wilton Guerrero (1974); Rafael Furcal (1977); Chris Bootcheck (1978); Omar Quintanilla (1981); Macay McBride (1982); Chris Colabello (1983); Lucas May (1984); Eric Hosmer (1989); and Rafael Devers (1996).
Players Born This Day